Suryakumar to lead India T20I team against Australia; Axar returns, no place for Samson

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Suryakumar Yadav West Indies

Suryakumar Yadav (File photo)

New Delhi: The national selectors on Monday entrusted a set of next-gen stars under the leadership of Suryakumar Yadav with the task of taming Australia in the upcoming five-match T20I series, beginning from November 23 at Visakhapatnam.

After a draining campaign in the recent ODI World Cup, India expectedly did not pick many senior players in the 15-member squad, with only Suryakumar, pacer Prasidh Krishna and wicketkeeper batter Ishan Kishan crossing over for the T20Is.

The selectors felt that these three players have not played enough cricket to warrant workload management at this moment.

Middle-order battter Shreyas Iyer will join the team for the last two matches at Raipur and Bengaluru and he will take over the vice-captain’s role from Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Axar Patel has also found a place in the squad after he missed the quadrennial big bash with a left quadriceps injury.

However, the left-arm spinner returned to competitive cricket last month for Gujarat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he played two matches against Punjab and Railways.

When it comes to the younger names in the squad, those players already have considerable exposure to the top-level cricket as they were part of the Indian squad for the three-match T20I series against Ireland and then for the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

The mandarins pegged the selection of players mainly on them having two good successive IPL seasons and the members in the squad have that against their names.

However, some of the performers in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy such as batters Riyan Parag, Abhishek Sharma and veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar could not find a berth in the squad.

Bhuvneshwar has picked up 16 wickets from seven matches in the SMAT at an impressive economy of 5.84 but the selectors felt that his pace has dropped considerably, barely averaging 130 kmph.

Parag and Sharma were in contention after their excellent run in the SMAT. Parag, who plays for Assam, was the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 510 runs from 10 matches, including seven fifties with a strike rate of 182.

Punjab left-hander Sharma, who is also a useful left-arm spinner, was the second highest run-getter in the SMAT with 485 runs from 10 matches, including two hundreds and three fifties with a strike-rate of 192.

But the powers that be felt that while these two players held out promise, they needed to show more consistency in the IPL to merit a place in the national side.

Sanju Samson might have been hoping to find a place in the squad but the Kerala batsmen was a notable absentee.

Perhaps, his lukewarm effort in the SMAT forced the selectors to overlook him for the time being.

Samson made a modest 138 runs from eight matches at an average of 27 and his strike-rate hovered around 145. He had made two fifties in the event.

However, Samson will get a chance to impress the selectors in the upcoming Vijay Hazare one-day tournament while leading Kerala.

Former India batter VVS Laxman will be the head coach of the team for the series.

India squad: Suryakumar Yadav (Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shivam Dubey, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.